Greetings from West Palm Gardens, FL. As I write this I am poolside enjoying an 80 degree day. This is relevant because I should be on a plane right now. When Mom asked me to drive her to her new Condo in West Palm (she doesn’t fly the dog) my original plan was to drive two days and fly back the next. After all, there is work to be done. But then I thought about it and checked my calendar at work. I’ve been there for a year now so I must be due some time off. Oops, I was looking at the wrong column, I was looking at the “feels like” column. I’ve been there 3 months it just feels like a year. I don’t have paid time coming to me but I’m taking a few days off.
Work has been a lot. Life as a Recovery Case Manager is rewarding, challenging and exhausting. If you do it right, and by that I mean give a shit, then Empathy deprivation is possible and burnout is expected. My supervisors have continuously warned me against doing too much and I did what Bill does and ignored their warnings. At my own peril. I’m exhausted.
Today I am going to take a nap after I publish this. Then I plan to eat something bad for me, go to bed early and fall asleep while binging Netflix in the AC. Tomorrow I am going to connect with a lovely friend from High School and her Cougar friend. I plan to have dinner and drinks and a late evening. Then I plan to sleep late even if I have to do it alone. I have earned it. My Clients are well taken care of. All of their outside needs and distractions are handled and I attend to everything that I can to make sure they attend to the business at hand…recovering from their addiction and the often horrible consequences. I am a good Case Manager because I give everything I have to my Clients. Now I am doing something for me.
That’s why it’s called “me time.”
There’s a woman I’m interested in. She checks a lot of boxes. She’s kind, down to earth, pleasant, and also possesses a lot of the qualities desired by the superficial male. I’m fairly certain that should I ask her out I will get the right answer. She’s a pharmacist, so I already have the line I’ll use. I’ll pick up one of the million scripts that I’m on, call her over under the guise of having a question about the medication, and then say, “Will this medication interfere with the dinner I want to take you out for?” At which time she would of course be incredibly charmed, quit her job, her panties would immediately fall off and BOOM I’m in. That’s some Barney Stinson shit right there.
It’s too bad I’ll never actually say it.
I think I’m done with dating. I’m damaged goods. I have never had a successful relationship. Every relationship I’ve ever been involved in has ended in the friend zone or just plain ended. Never mind the age-old kiss-off “It’s not you, it’s me.” I really think it’s me.
As my ex pointed out to me as she was in the process of simultaneously fucking with my head, cutting off my balls, and tearing out my heart; apparently I’m “a lot“. At the time, I took it as a negative, as I’m sure it was meant. But months later I have a new attitude.
“If I’m a lot then go look for less.”
Fuckin’ right I’m a lot. I’m a lot as a friend, as a son, as a Father, as a worker and co-worker, and as as a Samaritan. I will do great and terrible things for the ones that I love. It’s a privilege to be part of my life because I’m as loyal as a puppy dog and as fierce as a pissed off Pitbull. I will not betray or speak behind your back, I will talk shit to your face and defend you when you aren’t around. I have one speed and that is straight out. I do this because I care, A LOT. I am weary of having to defend my actions as I continuously give a fuck about things.
Nowhere does this come into play more than in a relationship. In that situation, I AM a lot. I just haven’t met a woman who appreciates it.
I’m unapologetically chivalrous without a whiff of chauvinism.
I want to hear about her day.
She always (cough cough) comes first, in that room and others her needs come before my own. And like in other areas of my life, I don’t look around at what I don’t have, I look in front of me to enjoy what I do.
I’m grateful for everything, I appreciate the small things and I always find something to smile about.
I give all that I have, I’m a people pleaser. That’s probably a detriment. Here are a few more.
I don’t have my own place. I don’t have hair. I don’t make a lot of money. My health is good for now but who knows the future? All or some of these have resulted in rejection in the world of Online Dating.
I am not optimistic that I am going to find the person who is a fit for all that so I’m going to do myself a favor and do the tried and true thing; shut myself down before I can be rejected again.
If I’m too much, then go find less. There is plenty of “less” out there.
I blogged about legacy recently. I came up with what I consider to be the components of a life well lived. A life well lived is a good legacy after all. Here’s what I came up with.
Who are you?
What is your purpose?
What are you doing to achieve that purpose?
What do you stand for?
How did you make people feel?
I touched on the whole “who are you?” question. Now I want to explore purpose. For as long as I can remember I have asked big questions within. While I never outwardly projected as particularly educated, worldly, or intellectual, I always knew that I was capable of deep spirituality and able to ask profound and meaningful questions. Unfortunately, I did it within myself. So as I outwardly led a somewhat meaningless life I was at all times looking for my place in this world. I’ve always believed that everyone has a purpose, well maybe not everyone. Some people seem to occupy space without offering anything that resembles rent. But then it also occurs to me that maybe someone thought that about me! So touche’ I suppose. But I digress.
Finding one’s purpose is the ultimate goal of existence. If you are a believer in any higher power it logically follows that you are here for a reason. It is our obligation to realize the why, learn the how, and then put it to work. The first mistake you can make is to assume that one’s purpose is large in scope. A tiny rock thrown into a lake creates a ripple that grows and grows. One person standing up can start a movement that can topple a regime. One act of kindness could save a life and inspire a movement. And apparently, a shitload of cliches and platitudes can become a blog. Sorry, I had to.
God gives everyone a purpose, it is up to us to find out what it is. I found my purpose around the time I found my identity. When I dropped my hardass image, my Limbaugh-Conservative anger, and the “I’m in control and don’t-care-what-people-think” persona and recognized that it’s ok to be a nice guy with a good heart and open mind I found liberation. Nothing less. All of it occurred due to my story.
“He [God] doesn’t promise our stories will make sense, but He does promise they’ll find their greater purpose if we’re patient.”
There it is. My story is who I am today. It didn’t make sense to me for a long time. But “why me?” eventually evolved into “why not me?” and the humbling journey into the pit of chronic illness taught me lessons that nothing else could ever have. I have lost almost everything in my life and I found positives in all of it. I will not lie and tell you that I was always upbeat but I always found a way to claw my way back to it. In the process, I became a person that some found inspirational. My story, and the consequent person that I became from it, became my purpose. Now, I use the new attitude of gratitude to help other people. I can only do so because I have finally found peace with who and what I am. To hell with big houses, big bank accounts, and big egos. Here’s to living within my means, seeking just enough, and small gestures to make the world a better place. I have found my purpose.
A walk down “the Ave”
I’ve been thinking about my Dad quite a bit lately. Much more than usual. It occurred to me recently that I am finally becoming, after many years of disappointing him, the person he wanted me to be. He never actually said it in words, but through various conversations that come to me in the middle of the night, I pieced together the causes behind his relentless criticisms (it can be argued that they were warranted) of my overall character. He had a clear vision of what he wanted me to be, not do, in life that he would be proud of. He wasn’t interested in wealth or status. He had a different vision for my continuation of the family legacy, and that is to do better than those that preceded us. That is what he did, and all of the times that he verbally chastised me for goofing off, being foolish with money, acting badly, and not showing ambition or looking to the future was out of fear that I would take the family name backward. He single-handedly rewrote the family story. And in the process, he created a wonderful legacy for himself. He will forever be known as a kind, humble, hard-working, honest man to all that knew him. I am sad to admit that for some time, I wasn’t all of those things. I always worked hard and I always tried to be kind and honest and humble but I could have done better. At this point in my life, I make it a priority to commit to all of those things as if my very life depended on them. I believe my father is with me and he needs to see that. It was important to him that his only son didn’t squander or discredit his good name.
My father did not have it easy as a boy. His parents would have had to get two raises to just be poor. They lived on Railroad Ave, a small, dead-end dirt road that contained the most decrepit houses in town, oddly not in the worst part of town. My grandfather had a steady job but it didn’t seem to go far. He was knocked out of the workforce early due to Emphysema and that certainly made matters worse. I never saw the house my father grew up in, it was torn down before I could, but two houses down was the house my Aunt and Uncle raised my 6 cousins. I spent a good portion of my childhood in that house and it was a mess. Sadly, it wasn’t even warm with love. The Husband made sure of that.
Life on Railroad Ave was a tough existence. For everyone but my father, it didn’t change much financially. My Aunt never caught a break financially, saddled with an abusive and underachieving husband and not much money. Fortunately, he died young and she was able to marry a nice man. He was wonderful to her but didn’t add much to the finances. My father’s other sister had a mild disability that she nursed for everything it was worth and never worked a day in her life. Her only accomplishment was caring for my very ill Grandfather in their squalid apartment until he passed. My Father affectionately referred to her as “useless”. His brother died in prison. I never met him and I’m glad. From what I understand he was a tremendous bully and very cruel to my father. My father hated him, so badly that he refused to go to his funeral. My father was committed to getting off of Railroad Ave as fast as he could and he worked his ass off to do so. He worked many jobs and took any opportunity to move up. He joined the Army and gained the necessary skills to further himself.
Fast forward to my birth in 1965. While in the National Guard he was married, owned a house, and had a Union job.
My dad loved his family and my childhood is full of memories of time spent on Railroad Ave. He was fine to visit there, but he was proud to have moved out. I’m sure that the Ave, with its dirt road riddled with potholes and crumbling houses, was a bittersweet reminder that he had done a little better than those before him. One thing I can say with all the confidence in the world is that his days on the Ave would forever influence him in every way. Those influences are also a huge part of who I am today.
Childhood and money
Have you ever been asked the question, “Would your childhood have been different (is that to say that you would be different?) if you had more money as a kid?”
Now, those of you that were raised in a wealthy family you can sit this one out. Myself, and everyone in my neighborhood, definitely were not. But here’s my answer.
I don’t know.
Well that was anticlimactic…
All I can say is that I never felt like I was in need of anything. As I stated in a earlier blog, I wouldn’t change my parents or my childhood at all, for anything.
I naturally led myself down this road of thought when I wrote about the varied and positive influences of my childhood, courtesy of 4 great role models; my mother and father and my grandparents on my mother’s side. I feel terrible saying this, but my fathers parents didn’t play a large role in my upbringing. But the rest of his family sure did, while they weren’t influencers they sure had an impact on my childhood and it was mostly a negative one.
Let’s look at the players and tie it in to the subject at hand.
My Grandparents on my mother’s side were born during WWI, graduated High School during the Great Depression, met during the booming ’30s only to go through WWII; money was never a major factor in their lives, nor were they fazed by the constant lack of it. They were conditioned to make do with very little. I knew them, from the earliest memory, to live a simple lifestyle and had few indulgences. My grandmother wanted little more than a decent home to live in. My grandfather liked a new car (never too fancy) every few years and he liked watches, also never too fancy. Oddly, despite their small home and frugal lifestyle they saved very little money. I was surprised to learn this, considering my grandfather was always working. Perhaps it is because my grandmother never worked after he came home from WW2.
Consequently my mother was very much like her mother when it came to money. She made her own clothes, even as an adult and liked to live simply.
She taught me well not to waste even though I thought it was a bit overboard to sew holes in socks and put patches on jeans. Fortunately for me patches became a fashion trend in the 70’s.